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Foss: Liquor store's defeat a victory for Schenectady residents

Foss: Liquor store's defeat a victory for Schenectady residents

Foss: Liquor store's defeat a victory for Schenectady residents
A former barber shop had signs announcing a coming liquor store called “Bleu Wine and Liquor Inc.” on Albany Street.
Photographer: ERICA MILLER/GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

There's value to speaking out. 

Had nobody spoken out against the liquor store proposed for Hamilton Hill, an unwanted and unwelcome business might very well be readying for customers. 

But people did speak out. 

And it made a difference. 

Last week the state Liquor Authority denied the liquor store's license, ending a fight that began last winter when a coalition of residents, non-profit organizations and churches began circulating a petition against the project.  

Too often, people assume they lack the power to change their neighborhoods for the better. 

Many of the people I spoke with disliked the idea of a liquor store on Albany Street, but doubted the resistance from the community would have much impact. 

They were wrong, as we now know. 

The SLA cited local opposition - which included formal letters from both the City Council and the mayor's office - as one of their reasons for denying the liquor store application. 

Several members of the city Planning Commission criticized the city for taking a formal stand on the liquor store. But I considered the city's opposition a welcome development. 

Hamilton Hill is a high-poverty neighborhood with a lot of problems. But it's also a place that's undergone a bit of a transformation. New housing developments have replaced blighted buildings and vacant lots, and more development is planned. 

A liquor store would have detracted from the ongoing effort to revitalize the Hill, causing unnecessary problems and headaches in a neighborhood where substance abuse is already rampant.  

The defeat of the liquor store is something to celebrate. 

It represents a hard-won victory for those who organized against it, and shows that people aren't always as helpless as they think. 

This was a process where the feelings of those who live and work Hamilton Hill really did matter, and their voices really were heard. 

The defeat of the Hamilton Hill liquor store shows what can can be accomplished when residents work together for the common good.

It's an inspiring story, and something to remember the next time a neighborhood is threatened by an undesirable business or project. 

Reach Sara Foss at [email protected]. Opinions expressed here are her own and not necessarily the newspaper's.    

 

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